Thursday, May 5, 2011

Asean discusses Burma chairmanship

---Bangkok Post---

Burma chairmanship of Asean was one of the key issues discussed separately at the Asean Senior Officials meeting and the parallel Asean Civil Society Ogranisations Conference/Asean People Forum.

There were clashes of debates at the ACSC/APF between the Burmese government -sponsored NGOs and the independent dissident NGOs during the three-day conference which ended Thursday.

The dissident NGOs have proposed the Asean seriously considers supporting the UN Committee of Inquiry on the grave human rights abuses in Burma and also deferring Burma chairmanship of Asean in 2014 due to its slow progress of democratisation.

The dissident NGOs have also called on Asean to pay more heed to humanitarian issues of the refugees.

Their calls were ferociously debated by members of Burmese official NGOs.

At the SOM meeting, Kyodo reported that Singapore has suggested Burma took up the chair in 2016 and allowed Malaysia to come in.

However, the Thai delegate said Burma should have no problem taking the chair role in the scheduled timeframe of 2014.

Sources said Asean had in 2005 successfully postponed Burma chairman and agreed that it could resume the chairmanship whenever they felt ready.

At that time US and EU had pressured Asean not to allow Burma to get ythe alternate annual chair.

Yet, the Burma chairmanship would be considered by the foreign ministers meeting Friday.